Designing Timber Members using Prokon


Amongst Prokon’s many modules, a select number are available for use as Design Links in both SUMO and Frame. Design Links export the Analysis results, along with member properties to the relevant Design module. These Design Links include Base Plate Design, Column Base (Pad Footing) Design, and many more. One of particular interest for today is the Timber Beam module.

Timber Beam’s interface looks very similar to that of Combine (member design for steel elements). It facilitates the process of designing Timber members according to three codes:

  • SABS 0163:2001
  • SANS 10163-2:2003
  • BS5268:1991

A structure can be modelled in SUMO/Frame and then exported to Timber Beam using the TimSec Design Link.

Within Timber Beam you are able to select/edit the Timber Grades, Design Parameters and the Slenderness Ratios. The Member tab allows you to edit the Effective Length Factor for different axes and you are able to identify internal nodes that should not be considered as element/member ends.

One limitation is that the program does not pull through Timber Poles when running the design checks. Timber Poles need to be replaced with equivalent rectangular and/or square sections in order for Timber Beam to design them. As an equivalent section will/should be smaller than its’ circular equivalent, the outcome can be deemed to be more conservative and therefore acceptable.

The program is automatically set to the Select Lightest Section Design Approach. Therefore, if a section fails, the configuration of the structure needs to be attended to. The check as per SANS 10163-2:2003 is as follows:

Paragraph 7.5 of SANS 10163-2:2003 (also SABS 0163-2) deals with “Members subjected to combined bending and axial force” where:

  • st/sc (also σtc) = Calculated tensile/compressive stress parallel to the grain.
  • sbx (also σbx) = Calculated bending stress about the x-axis.
  • sby (also σby) = Calculated bending stress about the y-axis.
  • ft/fc = Allowable tensile/compressive stress parallel to the grain.
  • fbx = Allowable bending stress for bending about the x-axis.
  • fby = Allowable bending stress for bending about the y-axis.

All in all, Timber Beam is a very useful module that allows for the design of Timber elements.

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